The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions

Rural Ireland


Having read Chapter 7: Serving the User, I began to relate alot of the challenges to Rural Ireland, but I don’t want to paint a bleak and backward notion of the region either.

I don’t live in rural Ireland but I have been part of it for a short time, WiFi is strong in some parts of the Island and weaker in others, however there is a vast number of the Irish population that is elderly, and here is were the problem lies.

Thinking about my own parents in their 70’s they have no idea what the internet is, they are constantly amazed when I bring my laptop home with me and spend hours on it doing work.

The most interesting piece of reflection came when the paper acknowledged “assistance” and the self-service option of a library. Many of these new self-service machines have been integrated into many libraries all over Ireland, however many are left idle. I was amazed recently in my own public library to see they had removed the self-service machine, when I asked they simply said that the area it was in was simply not working and there was nowhere else they could locate it in the library. Secondly they have a library catalogue service (again located in a very hidden place) but when I went to use it it was out of order, with a sign saying “please ask at desk”. As happy as I was to see these 2 things happen, as I always questioned them in my own mind, it is a shame that even though we are moving into a new technological era that some libraries are working away just doing the traditional process, like asking the librarian! But how long will this last, if staffing cuts are rising and more more people are using the library these 2 elements need to be able to take the pressure off the library as a whole.

This brings me back to my topic “Rural Ireland” because we are a country of warm engaging people and the elderly mostly will visit their library to integrate and communicate so that the self service option may not be the answer to many libraries problems, and that this technological change may hinder this user group access to the library.

I know for certain 1 county of Ireland there is no self-service and there is no library catalogue available, the county I live in now the library branches are very dispersed but I think it may be a useful investigation. I did live in the Capital city for 4 yrs and they do use the self service options widely, however their user group is much larger.

One to keep in mind!




Author: siobhanmac

Loves Libraries, Books, and Sunshine!

5 thoughts on “Rural Ireland

  1. Interesting discussion – although I live in the big smoke now, I am originally from a rural community and see there a lot of the problems you describe.
    I just wanted to share with you that this is not just a problem for public libraries. In one of our site libraries, the self-service machine is mostly idle and our catalogue never gets viewed. The main users of this site are nurses in the 50 – 60 age group in comparison to the other site where both are regularly used and where the users tend to be in the 18 – 30 age group. The older nurses say to me that they are really quite scared of the new technology and would prefer to phone up and have us do the work for them. Not that this is a bad thing of course, but it does worry me that our organisation, and to a certain extent libraries in general, push onwards towards digital only library provision without considering the needs and preferences of the community being served by the library.

  2. I think the key with seniors, and some extent anybody, is that there has to be a pre-existing need or desire that is not being fulfilled before one is willing to adopt a tech tool. For instance, in the States many grand parents use social media because it’s the best way to keep up with far flung children. Or they have a hobby or chronic condition for which there is no local support, they’ll go online to find like minded people.

    But if all of their acknowledged needs can be met without going online, there is no incentive to learn.

    • I agree Daniel, as much as my mother would sit and watch me on my computer and I show her simple things like Facebook, or my blog she is lost by the time I hit the webpage, and she constantly wonders how do you know where to go, or how does Facebook chat work, it is beyond her to think that my cousin in America is chatting to me in her home at the exact same time I am sitting in my home, and it is this fundamental understanding of the connections that I think they need to understand before they can understand the process. But all there is a curiosity with some and then a need to learn with others. What I don’t like is elderly people that go online to sort out an illness or their children do it, it is wrong and they are getting the wrong diagnosis over and over again, it is what I did my thesis on and it is scary!

  3. Very interesting. I wonder if the rural, aging population could benefit from services that introduce them to new technologies they may be curious about. It might make for some interesting community learning programs. Thanks for these insights.

    • It is very tricky situation, to be able to source the right aging age group. There are many facilities within the libraries around Ireland that do introduce this user group to the basic functions of computers etc. However for instance my parents would have no use at all for any of these new technologies and they are in their 70’s apart from using an old Nokia mobile (which they still can’t use to it’s best ability) if I turn my attention towards my partners parents who are 55-60 they do definitely need access to these facilities, as I have been teaching them for a while now. It is a very interesting topic, one that does need to be looked at on a broader term.

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